Thursday, November 14, 2019

Mayflower and Pilgrim Unit Study

Could you imagine giving up the life you had known for something entirely different? An adventure that turns into a grueling and desperate attempt to live free?  I imagine our pilgrims coming to America had big plans and many of them packed what they could ready to board a ship and never look back. 

The exhilaration and the sacrifice this journey was for our first settlers grabs ahold of us every year.  We grew up doing pilgrim and Indian crafts, partaking in mini feasts, and writing down 20 things we are thankful for...and chances are- you probably have a handprint turkey laying around somewhere. (I'm right aren't I??...It's ok, keep it, it's a memento!)

This isn’t your Mom’s unit study.  We are going deep into history to get a real feel of what life was like. 

This month, our kids have been learning MORE about the nations first peoples, and our first colonists.  Our indigenous people had so much more to offer than feather bands and teepees.  We studied some books and flash cards about their way of life in different regions. How they communicated and traveled and felt when the white man came. The eccentric beauty of their crafts gave way to our own imaginations too.  It's important to value the true history of Native Americans because of the heritage that they can still share with us today. The simplistic beauty of community, respect, and tradition cannot be compared to anything today. 

Our Native American study just evolved into Mayflower & Pilgrims since they go hand in hand! We wanted more hands on learning as we figure out what life was like being a pilgrim. How they made the things they needed and sourced out materials.  How they sacrificed their known lifestyles for the possibility of freedom and understanding the hardships they met along that path. 

The Main Focus

The primary focus for us to learn and create while taking away some deeper meanings. We usually don’t have a lot of time to spend on this unit, and in a way, it allows us to pick this apart for years to come!  One of the structured pieces of this study is the Explorers Box from Lakeshore. The activity guide has some parts that can help us learn about the Mayflower.  It is then on the individual books to teach us what life was like, and then we try out some crafts and cooking.  Some unit studies contain items for each subject and that can be really great for younger kids. I like to make ours open and free, so we choose something to do each morning before our regular classwork begins.  You can always find & use a study guide for this topic as well. 


I love the idea of exposing the kids to old craft.  Our ancestors were innovative and efficient at making items for basic needs. For this unit study, I wanted us to try Spinning, and where else to get a super cool, authentic spinning kit from than Plimoth Plantation itself!  I also scored a fun Tin Punching kit from Plimoth as well.  
Our other handcrafts include: 
Candle Dipping (this is a group activity as we only want to make this mess one time! The link has a kit for candle making).
Wool Felting (maybe not an authentic craft from the time, but it does show creativity with wool). 
Weaving- we started this with our Native American unit study and kept it out for our Pilgrims.  
Corn Husk Dolls- This one is for the girls! We found simple instructions online and purchased a bag of corn husks from the grocery store!

Pretend Play 

Our Jamestown settlers (safari toob) and Tri-corn hat came out for this unit! It’s so fun to dress up and pretend we are on our own ship! The tri-corn hat is part of the Discoverers Box from Lakeshore Learning, and you can find this sailor scope here (it works too)!! To make this more pilgrim-ish, we purchased the John Smith map of Virginia and it's on real parchment paper! This could take days to study on its own.


Little Pilgrims Progress (audio)
You Wouldn’t Want to Sail on the Mayflower
The Jamestown Colony
The Adventurous Life of Myles Standish
The Landing of the Pilgrims 
Squanto Friend of the Pilgrims 
Beginning Weaving Projects booklet (Plimoth Plantation)
Making Hand-Dipped Candles booklet(Plimoth Plantation)


(Play these as you have time, or need to alternate between reading.)


  • Build a Log Cabin (kit from Hobby Lobby or Rainbow Resource)
  • Dioramas & Paper Models 
  • Cooking a Wampanoag Recipe & Pilgrim Recipe (Scroll down to copy & print) 

Field Trips & Exploration

If you live in the east, you have a great opportunity to visit Plimoth Plantation and tour so many great spots!  Even in Ohio, there are little pilgrim villages or old time amusements that can be a fun trip! Out here in Arizona, we have zero Pilgrim exploring but we do hope to do some road trips in the future! 

Wampanoag Recipe ~Nasaump

Nasaump is a traditional Wampanoag dish that is made from dried corn, local berries, and nuts. It is boiled in water until it thickens, and is similar to a porridge or oatmeal.
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1 cup strawberries, raspberries, blueberries or a combination of all three
1/2 crushed walnuts, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds or a combination of all three
1 quart water
maple syrup or sugar to taste (optional)
Combine cornmeal, berries, crushed nuts, and the optional sweetener in a pot of water and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, for 15 minutes.  

Pilgrim Recipe ~ Curd Fritters

Curds are a soft cheese like cottage cheese or ricotta. These fritters are a lot like thin pancakes or crepes.  

5 eggs
curds (ricotta, cottage cheese) 
wheat or corn flour
cooking oil or butter

Make a thin batter with the eggs and equal amounts of curds and flour. Season with salt. Heat a small amount of cooking oil in your frying pan. When the oil is hot, pour in the batter and tip the pan to make the batter spread very thin (that’s what “let it run as small as you can” in the recipe means). They should be like crepes. When brown on one side, use your knife to flip them over or slide them onto a plate and flip them over into the pan. Add more oil to the pan when needed. Serve with sugar sprinkled on the top if you wish.
(Recipes borrowed from 
*Blog post contains affiliate links to Amazon for your convenience.  I have the potential to make a very small commission if you purchase any of the items linked but at no extra cost to you!

Save this blog post! Use this graphic on Pinterest!

What to know about buying a digital curriculum bundle!

If you’re like me, you are easily sucked in to beautifully staged pictures of learning materials that promise to be fun, engaging, and add v...